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A clinical psychologist’s tips on changing for good

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28 February 2022

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Karen Nimmo breaks down the steps to fix your habits.

Clean up your environment to support you

Your surroundings should support what you are trying to do. For example, if you want to lose weight, don’t have your favourite treat foods in the fridge and pantry.

Know your why

You need a meaningful reason for creating new habits. Ideally you should have both short- and long-term reasons. If you only have a short-term reason (like losing weight for a wedding) your good health intentions won’t last.

The best way to ditch a (bad) habit is to replace it

It’s easier to introduce a new one than to ditch an old one. Figure out a new, preferably daily, routine to support your new habit. Think about whether it’s doable, rather than enjoyable.

Aim low, not high

Whatever you’ve planned, cut it in half. People always make their new habits too hard to sustain. Start small and you’re more likely to succeed.

Use a visual cue

Remind yourself with something you can see. If you want to walk, put your walking shoes right by the front door. Hopefully they will speak to you when you try to get past them.

Be led by routines, not feelings

Feelings have a nasty habit of taking over and persuading us to eat poorly or skip the gym. Don’t ask how you feel about exercising or you’ll never do it. Stick to your routines instead.

Notice your wins

Give yourself a fist pump every time you follow through on a habit. It helps to bed-in your feeling of success and achievement.

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